Review: Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach

honors knight by rachel bachFormat read: ebook (purchased)
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: Space opera
Series: Paradox, #2
Length: 374 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Date Released: February 25, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she’s determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi’s not actually looking for it — trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she’s supposed to hate.

But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there’s worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

My Review:

Marlene absolutely loved Honor’s Knight, calling it “Beauty and the Beast on steroids.” Once again I am forced to open my Paradox review by disagreeing with the pop culture comparisons previously tossed around. This is not a book about creepy stockholm-syndrome forced hook-ups. If we’re going to go the Disney route, Devi is more Elsa than Belle.

When we first see Devi in Honor’s Knight, she has no memory of anything important that happened in Fortune’s Pawn, from the big important things (like the ability to kill with an invisible black goo), to the little things (such as the name of that cook guy who is inexplicably repugnant).

On the bright side, this means no one is going to kill her anytime soon. Well….perhaps it would be better to say no one wants her dead for knowing too much. Devi’s still got a big target on her back, except now she’s even less sure why.

The great thing about Devi in this entry is that she starts asking questions. Our favorite ambitious merc has realized she’s stumbling about in the middle of a shit-storm, and she needs to decide how to navigate through it without getting splattered. No more ignoring the weird stuff, or blindly accepting facts as parsed out to her – Devi finally begins to really pay attention to the world around her.

In a way, Devi’s previous disinterest in anything other than shooting things up helps her look at the issues of the phantoms, the daughters, and Maat without any preconceived notions. Everyone else involved in this FUBAR’d “strategy” to “save the universe” is absolutely unwilling to accept that they have utterly lost control of the situation – if they ever even had it in the first place.

What kind of alleged intelligence organization thinks allowing aliens to create an insane immortal out of an angry teenage girl is a solution to anything? Much less to then sacrifice hundreds (thousands?) of other teenaged girls to become disposal insane copies of the original? The father of one such girl sums it up best:

Our children were taken to be fodder for a salvation that was a miracle for everyone except those it destroyed. But the true villainy of the Eyes isn’t that they made a hard choice, but that they never sought to find another. I have been a soldier all my life. I understand that sacrifices must be made. But we’ve known about the phantoms for seventy years now. In that time, the Eyes have become experts at keeping the secret, experts in hiding, in responding quickly to signs of a phantom attack. They even learned to manage the lelgis. But the one thing they have never improved, never sought to improve, were the lives of Maat and her daughters. They had their miracle, their weapon, and they have never sought to find another.

Bravo! Encore!

Devi ultimately shares this view, and as the story unfolds, quickly capitalizes on her unique status in the universe as Black Goo Carrier to force the Eyes to start looking for another way.

We spend less time with the inhabitants of the Glorious Fool this time around, which is really for the best. How much insanity can one crew really deal with while credibly maintaining their ignorance? Novascape must be doing an insane amount of space-weed to keep her head so firmly in the clouds.

We do, however, get a deeper look into Paradoxian society. Which, let’s just say, is not for me. Nothing like a theocratic aristocracy to put me off my food.

“Yes, but I need to tell it to the baron myself,” I explained. “Can I see him?”

The guard looked at me like I’d just asked the impossible, which, to be fair, I had. Now that I was back on the king’s land, I was a peasant again, and peasants did not demand to speak to barons. But I wasn’t about to start talking phantoms and plasmex plagues to a door guard.

“I just need five minutes of his time,” I pleaded. “If he doesn’t want to hear more after that, I’ll take the consequences.”

The punishment for wasting a noble’s time could be severe if you put them in a bad enough mood.


Though my face was now parallel with the floor, I saw the baron wave dismissively through my cameras. “Only idiots ignore unexpected urgent messages,” he said. “Now, sit down and tell me what’s so goddamn important. And it had betterbe important, soldier, or you’re going to learn what it means to waste the king’s time.”

I paled. Threats like that were normal, but I’d never heard a noble curse before. As blood relations of the Sainted King, they were above such vulgarity. But I wasn’t about to tell the baron that.

Is it possible for Devi to emigrate to a society that doesn’t pretend it’s ruling class are made up of gods? Where you can’t be publicly tortured for not bowing and scraping enough? PLEASE TELL ME THE SERIES ENDS WITH DEVI TELLING THE SAINTED KING TO SUCK IT!

Fingers crossed! Devi spends most of the book telling everyone making demands of her – Maat, The Eyes, The Defector Eyes, The Cook, The Captain – to, essentially, fuck off. It’s awesome. I have hopes for a destroyed monarchy in book 3.

Back to the romance, which Marlene seems to think is big part of this book. I think we can all sum it up as the fact that Rupert got some, would like to continue getting some, and apparently is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. He’s like a teenager blowing off curfew to hang out with his ONE TRUE LOVE FOR REALS MOM I’LL NEVER LOVE ANYONE LIKE HER EVER AGAIN. It’s alternately sweet and annoying. Thankfully, Devi keeps him in his place.

Escape Rating: B+ for not boring me with romantic ennui and allowing Devi to really cut loose this time around. When we leave off, Devi’s cut off from everything and has nothing left to lose. I can’t wait to see her go nuts in Heaven’s Queen.

Review: On One Condition by Diane Alberts

Format Read: ebook from author
Genre: contemporary romance

Number of Pages: 112
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Publisher’s Website, Amazon , Barnes & Noble, Author’s Website

Book Blurb:

Kindergarten teacher Johanna hates Valentine’s Day. She hates romance, hates commercialism, and definitely hates her school’s annual charity date auction. She never expects her pre-auction night of drinking to land a sexy Brit in her bed. Or for that Brit to show up at the auction, bid thousands just to talk to her again, and get down on one knee in front of everyone and ask her to marry him.

Viscount Damon Haymes has never met anyone like Johanna. She’s neurotic, fascinating, and fun. She also doesn’t care about his title and doesn’t want his money, which makes Johanna perfect to fulfill a surprise clause in his father’s will: marry within three months and remain married for a year, or lose his fortune. A relationship is out of the question, but when passions ignite and the two fall in love, their marriage of convenience becomes anything but.

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

I’ll admit it; I was expecting this one to be short, sweet and sexy. And it was all of the above.

The “marriage of convenience” trope isn’t one that you often see in contemporary romance, so I was kind of intrigued. I wondered how the author was going to make the whole thing work in 21st century. I didn’t think it would be believable. And it nearly wasn’t.

The first scene is hilarious. It’s one of those classic “morning after the night before” things. Johanna tosses Damon out on his rich and titled ass. Which she has no clue is either rich or titled. Because when they met the night before, they were both way too drunk for introductions, if they even bothered. What they both remember is the really hot sex.

Damon wants to see Johanna again. He’s interested in any woman who isn’t interested in his title and fortune. Johanna just wants to forget the whole embarrassing incident ever happened. Damon is reluctantly willing to honor her wishes.

Fate intervenes, of course. The school where Johanna teaches is holding a charity auction that evening. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those auctions for an evening with a lovely lady event, where the ladies in question are the teachers. Of course, Damon comes to the auction and he purchases an evening of Johanna’s time.

This is typical romance fare.

What’s not typical happens in Damon’s office during the day. A lawyer informs Damon that his recently deceased father left one of those lovely little codicils in his will forcing Damon to marry within three months and stay married for at least a year, otherwise he’d lose his entire fortune.

Instead of deciding to marry a society chit, someone of his own class, some rich witch he’s known forever and already rejected, Damon sees Johanna at that charity auction and decides to offer her a marriage of convenience. He gets to keep his fortune, and she gets a whole lot of charity money for her school.

Johanna thinks she’ll protect her heart, and at the end of the year, she’ll walk away. The school will be set for years with Damon’s money. She can’t believe Damon could possibly want her. He certainly can’t love her. She’s just a school teacher, and he’s practically a prince.

Damon may be rich, but he really needs to learn a lesson about running his own business. He’s a smart guy, but not when it comes to reading over documents and making sure that he’s the one taking care of his responsibilities, and not trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted. He gets his happy ending almost by accident.

I enjoyed On One Condition a lot. It was a fun, albeit slightly implausible, light romance to read late at night.

I enjoyed it enough to give it 3 and a half stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

ARC Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart: by Stefanie Sloane

Format read: egalley from NetGalley
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Number of Pages: 304
Genre: regency romance, historical romance
Series: Regency Rogues #4
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Formats Available: paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon , Barnes & Noble,


Desire, danger, intrigue, and steamy seduction unite a sexy spymaster and an intrepid bluestocking as Stefanie Sloane’s luscious new series continues.

Possessed of a brilliant mind and a love for puzzles, Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a crucial member of the elite Young Corinthians spy league. Assuming the façade of an addle-brained Adonis, he hunts for a notorious London murderer known as the Bishop. When fate causes him to cross paths with Miss Elena Barnes, Dash discovers an enigma that will prove delightfully intoxicating to unravel: a voluptuous beauty as intelligent as she is fearless.

Only the lure of a collection of rare books bequeathed to her family by Dash’s late father could tempt Elena from her cozy rural life to the crush and vanity of London. But if Elena finds his lordship to be the most impossibly beautiful man she’s ever seen, he also seems to be the stupidest. Which made her body’s shameless response to his masterful seduction all the more unfathomable. Yet when she discovers Dash’s mission to track the dangerous Bishop, she willingly risks everything—her trust, her heart, her very life—to join him.

My thoughts:

I think Elena fell in love with Carrington’s library. And she was certainly consumed with lust for Carrington’s person.

Based on the descriptions of both the library and the Viscount, I’m not saying I blame her for either reaction.

Elena Barnes is a bluestocking. She had one season, and she didn’t, well, as one of Carrington’s friends put it, she didn’t take. Elena is also somewhat of a tomboy, and her widowed father gave up on governesses after she drove the fourth one away. With a frog.

Carrington’s late father willed his library to Elena’s father. He’s not quite well enough to see to the cataloging and packing himself. Carrington’s library is, of course, full of rare and wondrous volumes.

The new Viscount has the looks of an Adonis, one who pretends to have the brains of a cabbage. Of course, he’s not an idiot. He’s really a kind of spy, a member of the Young Corinthians.

Poor Elena can’t quite figure out why her body is sending her one signal, and her brain is sending quite another. After all, she’s certain she couldn’t possibly be interested in a man who isn’t actually, well, interesting.

But Carrington finds Elena much, much too interesting. And the longer she’s around the less he is able to keep up the pretense of being a total dim-wit.

I kept looking for a courtship, and there really isn’t one in the usual sense. It’s more of a reveal. The more he drops his mask of stupidity, the closer they get.

What makes Dash stop pretending he’s an idiot? Elena finds a puzzle box in his father’s library. Not just any puzzle, but the key to a mystery that Dash and his friends have been hunting for over a decade, the reason they all joined the Young Corinthians in the first place.

It’s his father’s notes on the murder of his best friend’s mother, Lady Alford. Notes that lead to the leader of a spy ring. Notes that make his enemies, Elena’s enemies. and put her directly into the line of fire.

Once this suspense line of the story got going, I couldn’t put the darn thing down. However, and it’s a big however, too many of the issues it raised were left unresolved. I smell a set up for the next books in the series. And I never did figure out who or what the “Saint” in the title referred to. Hearts definitely got stolen, but no saints were involved in their theft.

I give The Saint Who Stole My Heart 3 1/2 Stars.

ARC Review: The Devil of Jedburgh by Claire Robyns

Format read: E-ARC provided courtesy of the author
Release Date: February 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Formats Available: ebooks
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Carina PressBarnes & Noble


Raised on rumours of The Devil of Jedburgh, Breghan McAllen doesn’t want an arranged marriage to the beast. The arrogant border laird is not the romantic, sophisticated husband Breghan dreams of—despite the heat he stirs within her.

In need of an heir, Arran has finally agreed to take a wife, but when he sees Breghan’s fragile beauty, he’s furious. He will not risk the life of another maiden by getting her with child. Lust prompts him to offer a compromise: necessary precautions, and handfasting for a year and a day, after which Breghan will be free. For a chance to control her own future, Breghan makes a deal with the Devil.

Passion quickly turns to love, but Arran still has no intention of keeping the lass, or making her a mother. He loves her too much to lose her. But when a treasonous plot threatens queen and country, Breghan has to prove only she is woman enough to stand by his side.

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

I picked this up expecting a typical historic romance set in the Scottish borderlands. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy historic romances every so often, and Ms. Robyn’s previous book (Second-Guessing Fate)received a lot of great reviews, so “why not”?

Was I ever surprised! There’s a lot packed into this book. Yes, there is a romance. And it’s hot. But the neat thing about the romance is that both parties go in with eyes wide open. It’s an arrangement. A totally stupid arrangement between very bull-headed people, but the reader can see why it happens. They both think they can have a relationship for a year and then walk away. Like that’s going to work.

I did think the whole “Devil” think might be supernatural, but it’s not. It’s about superstition, and belief in curses, and how they might affect someone’s life. Arran believes he’s been cursed and sometimes he uses the fear of that to his advantage, and sometimes it works to his disadvantage. As Bree learns about the “real” Arran, the curse loses its effect on her. Making it lose its effect on him is what makes the story.

If this had just been about the romance, it would have been a darn good story. But what made it special for me was when Arran took Bree to Court with him. Court, in this case, was Edinburgh, to the court of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1565 or 1566. The Queen was pregnant with her heir, James VI, who later became James I of England. But more importantly, Arran brought Bree to Edinburgh just in time for them to be caught up in the plot to murder the Queen’s hated Secretary, David Rizzio. This was a brutal, messy time in Scottish Court politics, and Ms. Robyns wove her fiction beautifully into the historical narrative.

For me, that was the absolute icing on the four bookie cake.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.


ARC Review: Stainless: A Modern Romance by Todd Grimson

Format read: Uncorrected print proof provided by the publisher
Release Date: January 18, 2012
Number of Pages: 225 pages
Publisher: Schaffner Press
Formats Available: paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Schaffner Press, Barnes & Noble, Independent Publishers Group


Resurrecting a horrifying and romantic narrative that broke fresh ground for its genre, this soon to be re-released novel sets a vampire story in contemporary Los Angeles—the pleasure dome of late 1990s sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll culture. Unlike the vampires that came before her, Justine does not shun crosses, she watches horror movies on television, and she sets upon her prey in an almost apologetic way, never killing her victims but leaving them unconscious instead. She soon finds herself entwined in a very human sexual relationship with Keith, a down-on-his-luck rock guitarist whose hands have recently been mangled by a gang of drug dealers. Justine nurtures Keith out of his depression and drug addiction as he in turn becomes her lover and accomplice in her nocturnal predations. The relationship between the undead and the living is realistically and tragically portrayed as Keith acts both as Justine’s enabler and unwitting nemesis and, in this classic role reversal, ends up having to destroy the one he loves in order to save her.

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

Although this story was subtitled “a modern romance” I didn’t see it that way. I read it as a story about co-dependency and obsessions. Which definitely made the “modern” part of the subtitle truer than true, but kind of nixed the romantic aspects. Not that a whole lot of romantic relationships don’t have their co-dependent aspects.

But it’s the obsessions that drove the story for me. And I kind of got compelled to finish it. So maybe I got sucked into the obsessions a little bit, too.

Keith starts out as a washed up guitar player, and a heroin addict. The vampire Justine picks him up off the streets and gets him addicted to her, instead. They start out as two people who basically don’t care if they live or die.

But Keith’s problems are human problems. His ex-girlfriend committed suicide, and her other boyfriend (yes, it’s complicated) blamed him. Said other boyfriend sent his goon squad to break Keith’s hands and plant drugs in his hotel room. The broken hands ended Keith’s career as lead guitar player for a major rock band. Ending his music ended the only life he cared about.

But by making Keith an addict to whatever her vampire serum was instead of smack made Keith a functional addict. It gave him time to heal the emotional damage. Time really does heal all wounds. As Keith heals, he comes out of his comatose state of depression and starts to connect to the world again. But he’s alone most of the time with a very beautiful woman and a very dangerous secret.

As Keith connects to the world, he comes to life. Not just physical life, but emotional life. He’s young, handsome, and he needs her. Justine falls in love with her “Renfield”. Love gives her world the life and color and meaning it hasn’t had for centuries. Justine and Keith become obsessed with each other, as new lovers often do. It makes them vulnerable.

But Justine has been a vampire for 400 years. She’s survived by forgetting a lot of the things she has done. One of the things she has forgotten is that she made another vampire in LA. One that she shouldn’t. Not because it’s forbidden or because there are any rules or because vampires are even organized, but because this guy was a monster when he was human, back in the 1920s at the dawn of Hollywood.

Becoming a vampire didn’t make him much more of a monster, just a more powerful one. His obsession is Justine, the vampire who made him. He wants, no he needs to be the most powerful vampire in LA. And he wants to be sure that no one can contradict all the stories he tells. The only way that can happen is if he takes Justine out of the picture.

So when a young doctor discovers Justine’s secret, Justine is open to the idea of finding a cure for Keith’s damaged hands. And it sets the scene for her old enemy to use that vulnerability to rain destruction on them all.

Although I felt compelled to finish Stainless, there were a few things that didn’t quite work for me. The changes of point of view between Justine and Keith, the doctor Tamara and her fiancée Patrick, and the second vampire, David, and his minions, can be confusing. And there are a lot of points-of-view to follow. It’s easy to get lost. The melodramatic aspects of David’s evil did reach “over the top” proportions for me, although that’s a matter of personal taste. I might have liked the story better if David had been less of a stereotype, because one of things that made Justine interesting was that she wasn’t a stereotypical vampire.

The ending is the only ending possible. It’s inevitable and it’s exactly right.

I give Stainless three stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

ARC Review: Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee

Format read: ebook provided courtesy of the publisher
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Number of pages: 159
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info:  Goodreads, Author’s Website,  Entangled Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

When she’s sent to a crime scene and finds her second dead woman in as many weeks, half-banshee detective Kiera “Mac” McLoughlin is convinced a serial killer is on the loose. Incubi are extinct, her boss insists. But what else can kill a woman in the throes of pleasure? When her partner is murdered after using witchcraft to locate the killer and Mac is thrown off the case, her frustration turns to desperation.

Certain the killer is an incubus, Mac works behind her department’s back to chase down slim, sometimes perilous leads. While the killer eludes her, she does discover handsome Aidan Byrne, an investigative counterpart from the enigmatic Otherworlder Enforcement Agency. Mac typically runs her investigations fast and hard, but with Aidan at her side, she’s running this one “hot” as well. But Aidan knows more than he’s letting on—something that could shatter their blazing romance and add Mac to the killer’s growing body count…

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

It was the cop banter that sucked me in. Not just because it was good cop banter, although the author got it just right, the exact kind of dry humor that is chuckle under your breath funny, but because it hit the right tone. One of the cops was a “normal” and the other is a half-banshee, and it didn’t matter. They were both cops, and they sounded like cops. I was a goner. And so was the stiff in their crime scene.

I love urban fantasy, and the closer it is to our world, the better I like it. The worldbuilding in Banshee Charmer was so close to the “real” world, there was just this slight difference, all the paranormal is real, and everyone seems to know about it. There are laws about what paranormals can and can’t do, just like everyone else. I love that kind of stuff.  Treating the paranormal as just different types of evidence it just plain cool. Done as well as it is here, it gets me every time.
But series like these live or die (no pun intended) based on whether we like the characters. If it’s a cop shop book, we need to like the cops in the shop.

It’s all down to Mac. Being only a half-banshee means her scream only stuns, it doesn’t kill. And she’s got some baggage about not being as dangerous as she might be. But she’s much more interesting because she’s not invincible. And because she’s half-banshee, men who might otherwise be attracted stay far, far away.
Mac is on the trail of a serial killer who appears to murder his victims while they are in the throes of ecstatic pleasure.  The killer’s last victim was her partner Amanda. And Mac is supposed to be off the case. But in the tradition of all good cops everywhere, Mac is investigating on her own time, with the help of the extremely handsome Otherworld Enforcement Agent who just happened to show up in her kitchen the evening before her partner became the serial killer’s victim.

Aiden Byrne is another reason this story is so good. On the one hand, it’s obvious that he isn’t who he says he is. And that there is a reason he keeps disappearing at what could best be described as “opportune” moments. But his conflict between what he feels for Mac that he knows he shouldn’t, and whatever it is he has to do with the killer, is utterly delicious.

I enjoyed Mac’s personality and perspective. She was someone I wanted to spend time with, so it was fun. And this world is cool. The paranormal has been integrated into society. What a great place for more stories.  Which means that even though there is a happily ever after, there is plenty of room for more stories. I want to see more of how this place ticks.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.